Although the version I watched was not of very great quality and the legibility of the subtitles were terrible at times, I enjoyed what I could understand. My first thought was about the fact that King Hu used so many of the same actors that we seen in his other films. I really liked that he did this because watching it was way more engaging and he also gave all of them very significant roles in this film.
I also noticed that he used one of the same locations as a A Touch of Zen in the scene with all the tall trees. Another thing that I learned about King Hu’s style is that there is a specific sound he uses to build up suspense. This sound told me that something was about to happen before it was even expected in the film, and I thought this was neat that I have become this familiar with King Hu’s movies.
I really enjoyed the build up of Mr. Wu’s character. There were multiple scenes in the film that showed how great Mr. Wu’s Kung Fu skills were in comparison to others. I thought these were fun scenes. Even the very short scene where he tells the boy, “Don’t move” and the boy has to stay completely still while Wu fights off the bad guys, as he literally just predicted would happen.
This film was a lot easier to distinguish the sides during most of the fight scenes. Maybe this was because some were supposed to be Japanese so their costumes were different but I’m not too familiar with that. I wasn’t sure if the samurai guy at the very end was supposed to be Japanese or Chinese. That could be because the introduction to the movie was not very clear to me with the subtitles being so hard to read at times.
I also noted how King Hu once again introduced the strongest villain only near the very end. We saw this happen in A Touch of Zen as well. This guy that doesn’t come in until the very end is the one who ends up killing all the kung fu masters, while also getting killed himself. Therefore, they all die in this scene. We saw this happen at the end of Dragon Inn. This is quite an interesting way to end the film. I definitely was not expecting them all to die, but I understand why King Hu would do that. With the voiceover introduction and ending, it seems as though King Hu wasn’t going for the typical happy ending that we all expect. It seems that he was going more for telling the history of this issue that they faced in China with the Japanese pirates, and real-life history doesn’t necessarily have happy endings all the time. I think this is because of his passion for history and place, and this is something special about King Hu and his films.